VICTORIA CROSS PLAQUE STOLEN IN TORONTO


For Immediate Release (Ottawa – 19 December 2006)

    A trilingual bronze plaque honouring the First World War Ukrainian Canadian hero, Corporal Filip Konowal, VC, has been stolen from the facade of Branch #360 of The Royal Canadian Legion, 326 Queen Street West, in Toronto. The Branch, popularly known as “CLUB 360”  [Canadian Legion Ukrainian Branch] was particularly active in recalling the valour of this Canadian veteran, installing similar historical markers in places across Canada associated with Cpl Konowal’s life, including Richmond, British Columbia (The Royal Westminster Regiment), Ottawa (The Governor General’s Foot Guards), and on their own building, in Toronto, in 1996. Plaques were also unveiled in Kudkivtsi, Ukraine (Konowal’s home village), in 2000, and near the site of the Battle for Hill 70, Lens, France (2005). A trilingual booklet detailing Konowal’s life was published by the Branch and distributed widely across Canada to public libraries, schools and universities. Members of the group were likewise instrumental in rescuing Konowal’s VC, which now stands permanently on display in the new Canadian War Museum.

    Commenting on the theft, Branch #360’s president, John B Gregorovich, said:

    ” Our building was seized, without just cause, by the Ontario Provincial Command, with the sanction of Dominion Command of The Royal Canadian Legion, in June 2005. While this matter has yet to be resolved by the courts, the fact is that our property is currently in the charge of Ontario Provincial Command. Their stewardship leaves much to be desired, for, on their watch, a valuable bronze plaque honouring a Canadian soldier has been stolen. When our Branch was active that plaque was safe and sound. It was only after Ontario Command padlocked our premises and expelled us from our Branch, over the protests of our members, that this outrage took place. We have called upon the Ontario and Dominion Commands to file a police report about this theft and to contact their insurance providers to arrange for an exact replica of the Konowal plaque to be made and reinstalled. We expended considerable time and resources in doing the good Legion work of honouring Filip Konowal, one of our Great War veterans, and now that effort is being undone because of the actions of Ontario and Dominion Commands. They have a moral and legal duty to redress this situation. We are also asking anyone who has any information about the theft of this plaque to come forward and help us recover it. It is a sad day indeed when memorials to Canadian heroes become prey to petty thieves.”

Kobzar’s Children and Saskatoon!

I flew in to Saskatoon on November 24th for a book event for Kobzar’s Children that evening at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada. This was an amazing visit for so many reasons. The Ukrainian Museum of Canada is a phenomenal place. There are so many unique Canadian and Ukrainian artifacts that I could spend days there.

The museum also owns a large collection of William Kurelek original paintings and the Kobzar book event was held in the William Kurelek room. I had never seen a Kurelek up close and I was mesmerized by the minute detail. One could see the texture of every blade of grass and each wrinkle on every face. I could spend days in that room alone! William Kurelek grew up just miles from my father’s childhood home and many of his paintings remind me of my father’s stories about his childhood.

Added to this excitement was the fact that several of the anthology contributors were able to participate in the book event. Danny Evanishen came in from BC because the museum was holding a Christmas Yarmarok the same weekend. Danny has a number of Ukrainian folk tale collections through his own Ethnic Enterprises company. And his wife Jean makes beautiful Trypillian style pottery.

I had the opportunity to meet Larry Warwaruk for the first time at this event and was able to catch up with Linda Mikolayenko, who braved through a snow storm to get to Saskatoon.

Each contributor did a brief reading and gave some anecdotes about writing. Larry told a hilarious story about his first book launch. Linda was in her expressive storytelling mode and Danny was, well, Danny!

 The room was packed to capacity. There were even people listening in from the hallway. The museum sold out of all the hardcovers of Kobzar’s Children and most of the softcovers.

The royalties for Kobzar’s Children are donated to UCCLA.

Here’s a photo of the contributors who participated. From left to right, Danny, Linda, Larry and me:

CNE — Internment plaque in disrepair

Canadian National Exhibition
Press Building
210 Princes’ Boulevard
Exhibition Place
Toronto, ON M6K 3C3

Phone: 416-263-3800
Fax: 416-263-3838

E-mail: info@TheEx.com

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3 December 2006

Dear CNE Administration:

I happened to drive through the CNE grounds on Friday, 1 December 2006, and was dismayed to see that the pole mounted plaque, recalling the use of Stanley Barracks as an internment camp/receiving station in the First World War, is falling over. It is angled in such a way that it is not easy to read and is quite unappealing. I do not know whether this is the result of vandalism or an attempt to remove it, but my understanding is that the CNE is obliged to maintain it on site and in good condition. I hope you will send your repair crew out immediately to rectify this problem. As your records will no doubt confirm, the plaque was blessed by representatives of both the Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox churches, in the presence of a number of dignitaries, including a descendent of one of the internees. It would be very disturbing if it were not maintained properly and with dignity.

Thank you for your anticipated action in rectifying this matter.

Yours truly,

L Y Luciuk, PhD, Director of Research
Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association